Discovering the World of Arianja
The world of Arianja began to take shape about a year after the Twelve Kingdoms came into being. But whereas the Twelve Kingdoms were relatively straightforward in drawing upon our own stories of Faerie, Arianja being larger in scope pieced itself together slowly.
My first glimpse of this world came either my Freshman or Sophomore year when I sat down to write a retelling of the Pied Piper of Hamelin from the point of a view of a teenaged girl who was left behind. It remained that story for exactly one paragraph, before the lead character named herself Elspeth, sat herself down on a park bench in a world that was decidedly not Germany, and began to tell me her life story. I followed her for about ten thousand words, digressing into the life story of the dashing Poityr vol Rev who swooped in to save her from a brothel. By the time I realized that I was attempting to write a novel about political revolution and social upheaval, I was frantically backtracking to sort out what in the world this was.
The TransWorld Gates introduced themselves when it turned out that Elspeth's brother, Robin, had traveled north to try to find a sorcerer - and found Kian who had just come through the gates instead. (You can read Kian's half of that story here.) From there I discovered Ylondas Gatekeeper who made the Coliseum of Gates - although I didn't realized the Twelve Kingdoms had their own Gate and so could possibly get to to Arianja for another decade or so.
Since Elspeth lived in Gyve, details about that nation came together fairly quickly, with a few sketched in notions about Senel following, since Poityr was a refugee from that nation (having killed the elected monarch there). Elspeth's brother Robin required a nation that he could freeze to death in, and Reyjor was born.
There was a large class divide, and a sense that this was a world always in turmoil, which led to the integration of a pseudo-Norse mythology I'd written in my Sophomore year for one of my favorite classes, which chronicled the ancient Trojan-esque war between the warrior Vyjsig and the sorcerous Khlaovi - with the latter triumphing.
This led in turn to some serious science-searching to get my sorcery straight. At first, magic-users could just "see light" and do stuff with it. When I was introduced to a better understanding of physics by my senior year, particularly the relation of matter to energy, the "lights" Elspeth and Kian saw fell into place.
There were a few false starts. After the publication of my proto-Twelve Kingdoms-esque short story, If We Shadows Have Offended, I was invited to submit to Marion Zimmer Bradley's Sword and Sorceress anthology. They accepted my short story, "Better Seen Than Heard" which was set (ostensibly) in the nation of Jolveg - although except for a few of the names, I got all the details wrong. Alas, to date that story remains the only one from Arianja that's gotten properly published.
Being commissioned to write Niamh and the Hermit soon after that, and then falling into some serious playwriting, directing, and Regency novelling, Arianja took a bit of a backseat. Until The Sable Valentine, a mystery-adventure-romance series set after the fall of the Second Khlaovi Empire began knocking at my noggin. I've been spending the past several years trying to solve the writing of it.
Regardless, I have often said that I couldn't write the stories of Arianja until I had lived long enough to actually know something of the world. I'm hoping I'm grown up enough now...
Part (fake) opera program, part history, all fun, "Etta Lufada" tells the story of how the Khlaovi abused their sorcerous powers, and how the power of art triumphed over the powers of death. Exclusively on Patreon.
Explore the World of Arianja
(c) Emily C. A. Snyder